Friday, September 22, 2017

Primitive Man - Caustic

It feels like Primitive Man has been around forever, but in reality their debut full-length Scorn came out only four years ago.  Since then, however, they've released nearly a dozen singles, splits, and the EP Home is Where the Hatred Is, making them one of the more prolific bands going.  The Denver sludge trio has put out some of the darkest, most repulsive sludge around in the past four years, and with the release of their sophomore LP Caustic, it appears that was just a warm up.

The first thing I noticed about Caustic is that it is long.  Like long.  The twelve tracks range in length from 41 seconds to twelve and a half minutes; no matter the length, each track is stuffed with Primitive Man's unrelenting, oppressive sludge.  What's interesting - and impressive - is the way the band manages to take what could easily become a boring amalgamation of noise, crashing cymbals, and harsh vocals, and vary things up enough to hold your rapt attention for over an hour (mostly).

"Victim," for instance, has an undeniable groove running under all the feedback that could be the backbone of a Clutch or early-Sword jam if you cleaned off the tons of grime and muck Primitive Man cover it with.  "Commerce" is a twelve minute jam that's all over the place; sludge riddled with noise, switching tempos and keeping the listener off balance for the majority of its run time.  "Sterility" is an absolute burner, a track that roars and smolders before being snuffed out in a wail of feedback.

The back half is where Caustic truly shines, however.  "Sugar Hole" is a dirge that plods forward unrelentingly, a perpetual motion machine of death and despair.  The one-two knockout punch of "Disfigured" and "Inevitable" somehow takes the previous intensity of Caustic and ups the ante considerably; the back half of "Inevitable" especially is soaked in vitriol and lit on fire.  The album's closing track "Absolutes" is a noise track that unfortunately doesn't do much for me.  It's definitely unsettling, but after the intensity of "Inevitable," it feels like a let down.

It truly is amazing that PM is a three piece; the rhythm section of Jonathan Campos and Joe Linden sound HUGE, while guitarist/vocalist Ethan Lee McCarthy has one of the best, most recognizable voices in extreme music right now, while also playing a mean guitar.  The band uses feedback and tuning to their advantage, playing as loud as they can as close as they can to create a sound that is absolutely smothering; even "quieter" moments are discomforting.

Primitive Man is certainly not a band for everyone, but people looking for something dirty, abrasive, and absolutely fucking miserable are in for a treat.  Caustic takes the formula the band began on Scorn and continued on its myriad releases over the next few years and pushes it ever further over the edge.  While I'll admit I can do without the straight-up noise tracks, the band is clearly passionate about it, and the way they fold noise into their blackened sludge is sensational.  Caustic oozes contempt and hatred through every note of its runtime, and those willing to listen are in for a treat.

- Durf

No comments:

Post a Comment